As many a canny connoisseur will tell you, there are ways to enjoy fine dining’s Michelin stars and magnificent settings without having to kiss goodbye to your savings. With a little research and cunning, it’s possible to live the champagne lifestyle on a prosecco budget
Gidleigh Park, Dartmoor
Executive chef Michael Wignall’s ten course tasting menu (£145) makes for an evening of creative epicureanism in Gidleigh’s elegant two Michelin starred restaurant. Let the sommelier select wine to accompany each delectable dish at an additional £95. Or be thoroughly decadent and order an iconic bottle from Gidleigh’s immense cellar which includes Château Petrus and Mouton-Rothschild. If you need to ask the price, you probably can’t afford it.
No need to give up on gastronomic excellence if your purse is light. You can still luxuriate in the atmosphere, art and antiques of Dartmoor’s most majestic Tudor-style house with an afternoon tea of freshly cut sandwiches, exquisite patisserie and warm-from-the-oven scones (£37.50). Or make a day of it and explore the stunning estate, which is especially beautiful during autumn, followed by a three course lunch (£60).
Take the cellar tour
A tour of the wine cellar at Gidleigh is like a visit to a sweetie shop for the wine connoisseur. There are plenty of iconic wines to choose from such as Cheval Blanc from Bordeaux and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leflaive and Coche Dury from Burgundy.
Hidden treasures from less well-known producers are also worth exploring. The best way to experience a taste of the extensive list is by opting for a wine flight with the tasting menu. There may be a couple of surprises included too, such as sake and cider.
Harvey Nichols Second Floor Bar and Restaurant is a magnet for moneyed metropolitans seeking out an ultra chic soirée in the city. Those with the urge to splurge raise a toast with a bottle of Krug (£545) before tucking in to executive chef Louise McCrimmon’s two AA rosette à la carte dishes while ensconced into a gold leather booth.
You can still be part of the city set if you party by day and downsize the Krug for the Rose Champagne Afternoon Tea (£32). And in summer, don’t miss the Wine, Dine and Sunshine menu which is stunning value at three courses and a cocktail for £22.
Still blowing your budget?
Make a visit to the sleek bar and bag yourself a beautifully crafted cocktail before heading home for a plate of pasta.
Hotel Tresanton, St Mawes, Cornwall
Olga Polizzi’s stylish seaside hotel is a great place for ‘sleb spotting. Set in the pretty fishing village of St Mawes on the Roseland peninsula, it’s so beautifully tasteful that royalty and film stars are frequently found among guests. Dinner is served in the mosaic-floored, candlelit restaurant or on the lavender scented terrace with spectacular sea views. If money is no object, an overnight stopover is a chic treat and comes in at around £720 for B&B in the luxurious three bed Lamorran Suit or £260 for a smaller room.
Go posh without the dosh. Enjoy millionaire sea views on the Nook Terrace with the POSH option – and by that we mean the Port Out, Starboard Home – of delicious juicy burgers sourced from local beef, grilled over a barbecue during the summer (£8 a burger).
Other judicious options include a fabulous value two-course set menu with a glass of house wine (£25) in the restaurant or a scoop of homemade sorbet (£2.50) as an afternoon treat while feasting on those spectacular terrace views. And if you’re lucky enough to live nearby, join Club Roseland for discounts on wines and events throughout the year.
The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow
With its glasshouse front and elliptical bar centrepiece, this is the most celebrated of Rick Stein’s seafood establishments and has earned the status of one of Britain’s must-visit dining destinations. Well-heeled customers, pushing the boat out, opt for the likes of hot shellfish (£26.50) followed by lobster landed in Padstow harbour (£52), cooked by a team led by Trencherman’s 2017 Best Chef Stephane Delourme. A night in one of the master rooms, beautifully decorated by Jill Stein, includes a private roof terrace and fantastic views of the Camel Estuary (from around £300 per night) so guests can fully indulge in the cracking wine list before tripping lightly upstairs to bed.
Penny-wise pilgrims wanting to worship at this shrine to Cornish seafood should pop to the no-need-to-book bar and order a single course from the à la carte menu which includes fresh Porthilly oysters at £3 each. For a special occasion, the three course lunch menu gives a good choice of seafood and gourmet options for a doable £40.
Lucknam Park, near Bath
A mile-long entrance lined by magnificent beech trees leads into the world of luxury that is Lucknam Park. A bygone era of elegance awaits those with the means to enjoy cocktails and canapés in the drawing room followed by Hywel Jones’ signature eight course menu. Michelin starred cooking and a night of splendorous slumber in a grand suite – with four-poster bed and marbled bathroom – completes the experience. A stopover in the Grand Master Suite costs around £1,480. Country pursuits and pleasures include a session in the spa or a visit to the estate’s equestrian centre.
If you’re a value vixen intent on getting the country house owner experience on a housekeeper’s wage, The Brasserie set lunch menu (£24 for two courses) or a full afternoon tea with dainty patisserie, scones and sandwiches (£27) are smart ways to soak up Lucknam’s country house splendour and to get a chance to mosey around the gorgeous gardens.
Lympstone Manor, Exmouth
Romeos with rosy bank balances are whisking their Juliets away to Michael Caines’ latest venture overlooking the estuary at Exmouth.
The Riverside Romance package (£1,360 a night) includes a stay in a Superior Estuary Suite with a bottle of champagne, handmade chocolates, a bouquet of roses and a complimentary gin tray. And if you want your own private garden with views of the estuary and the option of relaxing by the fire pit or soaking in an alfresco marble tub as the sun goes down, plump for The Greenfinch Suite.
Those looking to lavish limitless luxury on their lover will book in for Michael’s signature eight course tasting menu (£140) with something exceptional from the well stocked cellar – a First Growth 2003 Château Latour (£2,100) maybe?
Foodies tempering their passions with a touch of parsimony can still have a fairytale moment. A Devon cream tea (£25) in one of the beautiful lounges or on the terrace is a delightful way to enjoy French patisserie and fabulous views. And bed and breakfast in a classic garden room can be snapped up for £305.
Glazebrook House, South Brent
Whether it’s the doll’s house hangings in the Mad Hatter room or the butterfly writing desk in the Caterpillar room, the quirky decor at Glazebrook House makes it a big hit with affluent arty types seeking an enchanting atmosphere. Amid beguiling vintage and retro curios, an eight course tasting menu with wine flight, from executive chef Ben Palmer costs £98, while an overnight stay in one of the characterful rooms with complimentary mini bar and breakfast starts at £169.
For an Alice in Wonderland experience, where you can nosey at Timothy Oulton’s fabulous interior design and enjoy the beautiful secluded setting, book in for a Devon cream tea (£7.50). Or start your day with a touch of the stylish surreal and make a reservation for a Glazebrook breakfast (£15).